Tornado watch issued for large area of Minnesota, including Twin Cities

Damaging winds, very large hail and strong tornadoes are all possible.
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UPDATE 5 P.M.

The severe weather has now reached an area north of the Twin Cities, with a severe thunderstorm warning in place for cities including Cambridge.

The metro hasn't been affected yet, but the NWS says there will be development to the west, so the Twin Cities isn't out of the woods yet.

Meanwhile, some hefty hail has been falling in central Minnesota.

UPDATE 2:45 P.M.

A tornado watch has been issued for a large area of central and northern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, which will be in place until 10 p.m.

The Storm Prediction Center outlook predicts "a regional outbreak of severe thunderstorms with the possibility of strong tornadoes and widespread significant wind damage is expected from central Minnesota across northern Wisconsin during the mid/late afternoon into tonight."

There is a full-on tornado warning currently in place in central Minnesota right now, which will remain in place till 4 p.m. and affects cities including Browerville and Little Falls.

Original story

People in Minnesota and Wisconsin need to watch out Friday afternoon and evening as the threat for major severe weather outbreak is growing, with the Storm Prediction Center upgrading the dangerous weather conditions to a moderate risk for parts of east-central Minnesota and western Wisconsin. 

Here's the wording from the SPC's 7:45 a.m. update, which says multiple strong tornadoes are possible, adding that all of the right conditions for severe weather at this time of year is "exceptionally rare." 

"Upgrading to Moderate Risk this outlook for the potential threats of multiple strong tornadoes and a derecho later this afternoon and evening. CAPE/shear/SRH parameter space in this region is forecast to be exceptionally rare for mid July amid a predominately zonal flow regime across the northern states."

That's essentially meteorological talk saying conditions are very favorable for explosive, dangerous storm development. Areas shaded in red are in the moderate risk, which is the second-highest level the prediction center goes.

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The most likely scenario to unfold is for supercell storms to develop in west-central Minnesota early in the afternoon and then rapidly spread east, eventually forming into a bowing line of storms that could evolve into a derecho, which is a long-lived line of storms capable of producing widespread damaging winds. 

The storms will be capable of producing: 

  • Widespread damaging winds, some hurricane-force winds
  • Several tornadoes, a few of which could be intense
  • Scattered large hail, some the size of baseballs

It's entirely possible that the storms go north of the Twin Cities metro area, but it's also possible that they go right through the metro. 

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Tornado threat

Areas in the hatched/circled area are currently forecast to have the greatest risk of intense tornadoes. 

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Damaging wind threat

Areas shaded in pink have the greatest risk for widespread damaging winds as a potential derecho speeds across the state and through Wisconsin. The circled/hatched area means there is a greater probability of 75+ mph winds. 

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Large hail threat

Areas shaded in red stand the greatest chance for large hail, and locations within the circled/hatched area stand the chance to get hail up to the size of baseballs. 

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Follow the Weather MN blog for updates and subscribe for BREAKING WEATHER newsletters to be alerted to potential watches and warnings. 

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